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But I am not torn and I am begining to think that balance is just a requirement of my washing machine.

June 24, 2011

I told Chris the other day that I must be broken.  I am going to put something else out there for you and all of the universe:  I don’t feel bad leaving my little girl at daycare!  There I said it.  I like to work, I like the work I do.  I LOVE my daughter and growing son and I love having family time and rearing my children but I don’t mind leaving Miss A at daycare and I don’t think I am going to mind leaving the growing baby either.

Let me back up just a little bit and give you some context.  I had another conversation with another woman who was talking to me about work after the second baby comes and wasn’t I just sad at the thought of leaving them both with someone else all day and didn’t I just cry every time I thought about leaving that little bitty baby with someone else?  Then Chris came home from work talking about a conversation he had with a twenty something sales rep who was talking about kids and how she wasn’t ready for the struggle between career and motherhood and how he had told her he didn’t think his wife struggled that much (he knows me, that man).  Then I read a little bit of a book from another blog:  http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/21/talking-about-torn/ about the struggle for balance and feeling torn and having to make a choice that forces you to give up a part of yourself.  Then my head started spinning and I started to spew green pea soup from my mouth and I have to say, I am getting a little bit mad.  Wait.  Let me be honest.  I got a lot mad and did the split pea soup spitting thing and NOW I am a little bit mad and a little bit frustrated and feel like a paradigm is being forced on me that I do not accept.

Let me state the facts:

  1. I am hugely blessed with a wonderful husband who is a true partner in both our marriage and parenting.
  2. I have found a wonderful daycare provider who not only takes good care of my child and soon children, but who also has a degree in early childhood education and shapes our daughters day with lots of learning and experiences and not just the bottom rung of Maslow’s hierarchy.
  3. I have a profession that allows me as much flexibility as I am willing to take.  I have lots of choices available to me and have recently found a place that suits me both intellectually and from a time and committment perspective.
  4. My husband and I both have solid incomes that give us the flexibility to have choices and flexibility in our lifestyle.
  5. We have bills.  We just bought a new home, we own cars, we have graduate degrees (some of us more than others of us) that we considered an investment in our future and now have to pay off.  We are not completely foot loose and fancy free and we have a lifestyle that we enjoy and we want to protect.

But all of those things didn’t happen in a vacuum.  Everything on that list of facts in my life is the result of an active choice that I made at some point in my life.  I made the choice to become a nurse because of the versatility that it offered and the flexibility that it has within one profession.  I married a man who had a very strong grasp of what he wanted in family and career and was already making strides down that professional road and who understood from the almost very beginning of our relationship that  I wanted a partner and what that meant to me (read:  active father, shared responsibilities in EVERY part of our lives, I love my profession and I don’t think I would make the choice to atay at home).  We made the choice to live in a part of the country that places a high value on family and has a very affordable cost of living.

I get frustrated with two primary ideals:  1)  That there is a right and a wrong choice and if you choose to work then you have to give up raising your children or if you choose to stay home with your children you sacrifice any opportunity of professional career and you can’t have both, if you choose a blended path, it will be rife with the frustration of “balance”.  2)  One way is right and every other way is wrong (notice I didn’t tell you which way was the right way?)  Who says?  I believe that there is a certain element of compromise in every choice in our life and these choices are no different.  I have recently made what feels like a pretty big compromise with title and responsibility, even some salary, so that I could be at home more, so I would have fewer work demands, so I could have more family flexibility, so I would work in an environment that honored my choices to stop climbing and just stay here for a while in my career.  I haven’t considered my choice-making a struggle but a series of decisions that Chris and I have made to live the life we want.  At the same time we were making decisions about my coming off the road and being home more, we were making decisions about him taking a position that would require him to be on call and away from home more, but with huge differences in job satisfaction.   When I consider the stories that I hear and read about families who feel stuck or who are working so hard to achieve balance, I wonder if it is internal or external sources putting pressure on these families to achieve a certain standard.  We are trying very hard to not let outside influences control our decisions but be very active and thoughtful on making the choices that are right for us, as a family.

My mother had a book on her shelf that was titled “Normal is Just a Setting On Your Dryer” and the whole book was teaching that “normal” is over-rated and misunderstood.  That our strive to be “normal” is really driven by our need to be affirmed and accepted by others and not from any real desire to be our best self.  I am beginning to think that balance should be viewed from the same perspective.  I will not have anyone else’s ideas of balance or “right” (you may also substitute appropriate, good, happy, successful) forced on me or my family.  We choose our priorities and therefore choose what goes on our plate.  We are not looking for balance, we recognize that some weeks work is a priority, some weeks family is a priority and some weeks they are pretty even and we move through life in the routine we have established.  We just strive to not let the things we have decided are important get lost in the shuffle.  Those choices and priorities will change over time with the changes that we experience in our lives. We will constantly have to reset and establish our priorities to make our lives work for us.  We are already doing that, knowing that adding another baby to the family is going to require us to make some changes.  Not because we are looking to any outside rules to govern us but because we have to evaluate what we want and how to make that work.

We have not perfected the model, but we are working it.  At the end of more days than not, one of us will look over to the other and say “we have such a good life” and to me that speaks volumes!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Michelle permalink
    June 24, 2011 8:05 pm

    I LOVE this post! This is why I was so looking forward to reading your blog — to get a different, intelligent, honest, balanced perspective. Yay for choices! Your kid(s) are blessed indeed.

    • June 25, 2011 1:39 am

      Thanks, Michelle. That means a lot coming from a mom that I respect that has made different choices than we have. i sure don’t want to come across as having made the “right” choice, just that we made a choice and it is right for us!

  2. Angela (Vowels) Altman permalink
    June 25, 2011 12:38 pm

    I agree. It’s all about the right balance for YOU… I also feel blessed to have found an awesome daycare who does things with my children that I can guarantee I wouldn’t do with them if they were home (i.e., finger paint with my 11 mo old and celebrate National Mud Day with my 4 year old). I think those who struggle with the “balance” are not comfortable with their situation and therefore, wish for a way to make it different! Well, said – your posts are both well thought out and well written. When I read, it feels like having a (one-sided) conversation with you! Glad for you that things are going so well. And, congrats on Baby #2!

  3. June 25, 2011 1:43 pm

    I thought this was a fabulous post! Well done! Well said!

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